Finally, we get one of those historical-tragedy episodes the show does so well. At the outset, it's all about the white people and their little dramas. Peggy and Abe are considering moving on up to a deluxe-ish apartment in the extreme Upper Eastern part of the sky; Don and Megan run into Sylvia and Rosen, who are on their way to a weekend in D.C., and Don is squirrely and weird about the whole thing; Ginzo's dad tries to match-make him with the schoolteacher daughter of a chess buddy of his, and Ginzo isn't thrilled about it; Megan's up for an ad award from her days as a copywriter, and Peggy is too, so all the major players from SCDP and CGC are on hand for the ceremony, not to mention some of the whitest character actors around, Harry Hamlin (as the other C in CGC) and William Mapother, playing a weirdo (surprise) insurance guy. "Paul Newman" emcees, and he's just about as white can be in telling the room that he prefers Gene McCarthy to Bobby Kennedy.
And then the news breaks that Martin Luther King Jr. has been killed.
What happens from here is a bunch of white people acting inappropriately and/or awkwardly – there are not one but two embraces of black women that are executed with exquisite clumsiness -- which is, no matter what else you might say about it, believable. Henry goes running to the city to help Mayor Lindsay, and in the aftermath, he announces that he would have handled the whole situation differently – i.e., with much less racial sympathy – and decides he wants to run for an open State Senate seat as a Republican. Betty's thrilled, but does realize she's going to have to drop some weight if she's going to be in the public eye.
In the office, it's kind of JFK-assassination redux as Harry complains about the tragedy screwing up his media sales, which causes Pete to verbally eviscerate him despite Bertram's attempts to play peacemaker. Later, Pete calls Trudy and asks to come home, but despite their progressive leanings being about the only thing they ever had in common, she tells him to stay away. Peggy's broker tries to use the assassination-fueled riots to play some icky games with the apartment's asking price, but Peggy ends up not getting the place, which only results in the revelation that Abe didn't want to live over there anyway, as it's not a diverse enough neighborhood. Oh, and to cap all the white weirdness, Mapother comes in and pitches a fearmongering concept that I've mostly blocked out already but I can tell you was like politically offensive performance art.
And then there's Don. After spending a significant amount of time obsessing over the fact that Sylvia is down in racially-torn D.C., he comes to his senses when Betty blasts him for failing to pick the kids up like he always does, so he brings them home surrounded by the noises of the sirens. Megan takes the kids to a park vigil, but Bobby stays behind with Don, and father and son end up bonding over Planet Of The Apes. Despite this, Megan chews Don out for failing to be a father and succeeding at being a drunk in this difficult period, and he admits that, essentially, he always thought his childhood had rendered him unable to love his kids, but somehow, he does now. He then crawls into bed with Bobby, who confesses he's worried about someone shooting Henry. Don assures him that's not going to happen, but he seems less confident when he goes out onto the terrace and listens to the sirens. I wish it hadn't taken a national tragedy, but to me, this is the most interesting Don Draper's been in some time.
Peggy is standing in an unfurnished apartment as a woman's voice tells her it's just about 1300 square feet, and having lived in many New York apartments not nearly that size, you'll forgive me if I take a moment to steady myself. The broker, after ticking off all the apartment's features, says that she thinks it has everything on Peggy's list, and although Peggy thinks it's quite a bit farther east than is ideal, the broker assures her she'll love it. "And believe me, when they finish the Second Avenue Subway, this apartment will quadruple in value." For those of you who aren't aware, the Second Avenue Subway has been a punch line for New Yorkers for decades, so much so that the first event that stalled its construction was the Great Depression. But, and I realize this is "fool me fifty times" territory, it appears like its opening is imminent in the grand scheme of things, so whoever's got Peggy's prospective apartment in 2013 should be sitting pretty.
The doorbell rings, and the broker thinks it's going to be a "Barbara" (co-op board member, perhaps?), but it's actually Abe, who looks like he hasn't washed his hair in a week, which isn't a great look given the lengths that are fashionable in this era. The realtor, after casting an appraising (sorry) eye over him, makes that standard pitch about there being another buyer so Abe better act now, but Abe is like, that's great, but Moneybags over here is going to be making the actual decision. The broker, who is hitting that "brittle with a smile" note that so many people in this profession default to like a pro, takes in this information and replies that she misunderstood the situation before going off to busy herself with the toilet, whereupon Abe whispers to Peggy: "She didn't know I wasn't the buyer? So all this time she was just being rude." Heh. Peggy tells him to forget about her, and then asks him if the place is too far east. Considering Abe hasn't yet recovered his breath from hucking his ass over from the Lexington line, I'm guessing his answer is going to be "yes."
Bobby notices a spot on his wall where the paper is lined up unevenly and starts picking at it. This may seem OCD, but the wallpaper pattern is so boring I'd imagine he'd take any excuse. He gets a decent-sized piece off before Betty's voice calls him for dinner, whereupon he slides the bed over to cover his handiwork. All well and good, Bobby, but you might want to get that impulse under control. You don't have much more furniture to work with here.